Tag Archives: elk

Orcas Island Elk On The Move

Those two bull elk we reported on Orcas Island yesterday?

Yeah, they’re probably over on Cypress or Sinclair or Lopez or Blakely or Obstruction or Lummi or Vendovi or Guemes or Decatur Island by now.

(ELIZABETH MARCUM)

After Thursday morning’s sighting on Orcas near the golf course between the ferry dock and village of Eastsound, around 10 a.m. today the duo were spotted about 5 air miles to the southeast and across East Sound, near Obstruction Pass by resident Uncle John Willis.

“Well, this morning I planned on going to town, but chose not to do that. I looked out my window at my sister’s house and here are two bull elk eating leaves off of a filbert tree in front of her house,” he told us.

“They were two good, healthy-looking bulls. I was not quite ready to see two elk this morning,” Willis added.

“To see a couple of bull elk was beyond my wildest expectations,” the longtime Orcas Island resident said.

Still, through the island grapevine he’d heard of yesterday’s sightings.

Willis said his first thought was, “I need to find a camera or they’ll all think I’m crazy.”

So he and a friend with a camera went looking for them on the property.

He wasn’t quite sure how they had arrived at the family farm near Deer Point.

“This whole thing is so crazy. To get here they  must have swam. They couldn’t get a reservation on the ferry, I don’t think,” Willis said

Indeed, it is likely that the elk jumped in the water, but from where is a darn good question.

Two bulls were spotted on Salt Spring Island, on the Vancouver Island side of the San Juans, earlier this spring, but an elk on Whidbey Island swam over from the Skagit Valley a couple years ago too.

THERE, ON THE 1886 FARMSTEAD AND BETWEEN AUNT MARY’S CHICKEN COOP, GRASS-FED ANGUS CATTLE AND MT CONSTITUTION IN THE FOG IS ONE OF THE ELK. ( ELIZABETH MARCUM)

Before this, Willis says the biggest wildlife event on Orcas might have been the bear that swam over last year.

The bruin was spotted on Obstruction Pass Road at the exact same spot as the elk was photographed above.

“Anyway, it’s been a crazy day for me,” Willis added.

 

Elk Photographed On Orcas Island

UPDATE: 1:10 P.M., JUNE 29, 2018: The bulls were spotted around 10 this morning, 5 miles to the southeast outside Olga.

First an elk turned up on Whidbey Island and now it sounds like two more have swam across to Orcas Island.

A pair of bulls were spotted this morning in a resident’s yard near the golf course between Orcas and Eastsound.

“Yep, that’s an elk,” confirmed WDFW wildlife biologist Ruth Milner in La Conner.

A SCREEN SHOT OFF THE ORCAS ISLAND GOLF COURSE’S FACEBOOK PAGE SHOWS WHAT APPEARS TO BE A BULL ELK. (FACEBOOK)

“They were in our yard, the dog went nuts at 5:20 a.m. when he saw them,” resident Kyle Freeman told The Islands’ Sounder.

“Never heard of elk on Orcas,” the Orcas Island Golf Course posted on Facebook.

Maybe not, but animals swimming from the mainland out to the dozens of islands throughout the Salish Sea is not unheard of.

“We had a bear on Orcas last year, a cougar on Vashon, the most beautiful bull elk you’ve ever seen on Whidbey,” notes Milner.

It’s possible that the Orcas duo ended up there for reasons similar to how the Oak Harbor-area bull took up residence there.

“The Whidbey elk was seen down in the (Skagit) valley with a band of cows and we think someone booted him and he took off west instead of east, and that’s probably what happened here,” Milner says.

It’s possible that the duo is the same pair that turned up on the southeast end of British Columbia’s Salt Spring Island, to the northwest of Orcas, in early April.

The history of wapiti on islands in Washington’s sheltered inland sea is “pretty vague,” Milner says, but before European settlement, some animals probably occurred on them.

Where those bulls may have been driven away by more dominant ones, she says that a researcher found rutty island blacktail bucks swimming back and forth through the archipelago in search of does.

“Collared bucks from Blakely leave the island and then come back,” she says.

“They do things we wouldn’t,” Milner notes.

While deer hunting in the islands is open, with second tags available for many, elk are off limits as there are no seasons on Orcas, Whidbey or elsewhere.

As for the Orcas bulls, it sounds like they may be happy where they’re at, at least for the moment.

“They did not appear to be in a hurry to head in any direction,” Freeman told the Sounder. “When I went outside they walked slowly into the tall grass and disappeared into the woods.”

Record $1.02 Million Raised Through ODFW Raffle, Auction Tags; Money Goes To Access, Research Programs, Conservation Groups

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

ODFW’s 2018 auctions and raffles for 26 special Oregon big game hunting tags grossed a record $1,019,730 this year, breaking the previous record of $882,787 set in 2017. Winners of these tags can hunt during an extended season and in an expanded hunt area.

PATRICK WHEELER FROM HINES WITH A DEER TAKEN IN THE MALHEUR UNIT WITH HIS 2012 SE OREGON DEER RAFFLE TAG. (VIA ODFW)

A total of 145,105 raffle tickets were sold, grossing $380,730 and breaking previous records for raffle sales. Raffle winners were drawn at the Oregon Hunters Association state convention on May 12 at the Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville. See the list of winners at https://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/hunting/auctions_raffles/raffle_winners.asp

The auction of 13 special big game tags grossed $639,000. The Governor’s combination deer/elk tag went for $78,000, breaking the previous record of $70,000 set in 2016. See the list of auction events and winning bids at https://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/hunting/auctions_raffles/current_auction_sales.asp

The funds raised for deer and elk tags sold at auctions and raffles go to ODFW’s Access and Habitat program, which opens millions of acres of private land to hunting access and improves wildlife habitat. Proceeds from the pronghorn, bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goat tags help fund research and management of those species.

The sportsmen conservation groups that sponsored the auctions at fund raising banquets of their organizations in the past few months also get to keep 10 percent of the auction proceeds ($63,900). Those groups include local, state and/or national chapters of the Wild Sheep Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, Oregon Hunters Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, and National Wild Turkey Federation.

WDFW To Kill Elk To Prevent Hoof Rot Spread After Disease Found In Trout Lake Herd, First East Of Crest

THE FOLLOWING IS A WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE

For the first time, state wildlife managers have found elk on the east side of the Cascade Range infected with a crippling hoof disease that has spread to 11 counties in western Washington over the past decade.

AN ELK’S HOOF AFFECTED BY THE CONDITION. (WDFW)

Lab results from a deformed hoof and direct observations of elk walking with a profound limp in the Trout Lake Valley of Klickitat County provide clear evidence that the disease has spread to that area, said Eric Gardner, head of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) wildlife program.

“This is a huge concern for us and a lot of other people,” Gardner said. “This is a terrible disease and there’s no vaccine to prevent it and no proven options for treating free-ranging elk in the field.”

In response, state wildlife managers are preparing to euthanize any elk showing signs of the disease near the small town of Trout Lake, about 60 miles northeast of Vancouver. The goal is to stop it from spreading farther into eastern Washington, Gardner said.

“This is the first time the department has tried to stop the advance of the disease by removing affected elk,” said Kyle Garrison, WDFW hoof disease coordinator. “There’s no guarantee of success, but we believe a rapid response might contain this outbreak given the isolation of Trout Lake and the low prevalence of elk showing symptoms of the disease.”

He said the department plans to remove up to 20 symptomatic elk from the area in May. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which supports the proposed action, has pledged $2,000 to help defray the department’s costs.

Garrison and other WDFW wildlife managers will discuss the department’s plans at a public meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 3, at the WDFW regional office at 5525 S. 11th St. in Ridgefield.

The first sign that the infectious disease had spread so far east came April 4, when a resident of Trout Lake sent the department a deformed hoof from an elk killed in a vehicle collision near his home, Garrison said.

On April 17, a WDFW staff team searched the area for other elk that might have been infected. They observed at least seven elk walking with a pronounced limp – a common symptom of the disease – and shot one limping animal to obtain hoof samples for testing.

Tests at Colorado State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the USDA National Animal Disease Center confirmed both elk had hoof disease, Gardner said.

“We need to act quickly if we hope to get ahead of this situation,” Garrison said. “Elk in lowland areas begin to disperse into summer grazing areas by the end of May.”

WDFW staff met this week with local landowners to discuss the upcoming action and to gain permission to enter their property, Garrison said. The department plans to contract with USDA Wildlife Services to euthanize symptomatic elk, and Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine will test tissue samples.

“The college is cooperating with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and other agencies in accordance with direction from the Washington Legislature to research elk hoof disease,” said Dean Bryan Slinker. WSU pathologists will conduct post-mortem examinations of the euthanized elk and will collect as many tissue samples as possible, he said.

For the past decade, WDFW has worked with scientists, veterinarians, outdoor organizations, tribal governments and others to diagnose and manage the disease.
Key findings include:

  • Wildlife managers believe elk carry the disease on their hooves and transport it to other areas. Once the disease becomes established in an elk population, it is extremely difficult to manage.
  • The disease appears to be highly infectious among elk, but there is no evidence that it affects humans. The disease can affect any hoof in any elk, young or old, male or female.
  • Tests show the disease is limited to animals’ hooves, and does not affect their meat or organs. If the meat looks normal and if hunters harvest, process and cook it practicing good hygiene, it is probably safe to eat. 

For more information about treponeme-associated hoof disease in Washington state, see https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/health/hoof_disease/

Washington Special Permit Application Period Now Open

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Hunters have through May 23 to apply for special hunting permits for fall deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey seasons in Washington.

HUNTING ON A LATE KLICKITAT TAG IN 2013, BUZZ RAMSEY BAGGED THIS NICE BUCK ON DAY SIX OF HIS EIGHT-DAY SPECIAL HUNT WITH SON WADE. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

Permit winners will be selected through a random drawing conducted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in June. Special permits qualify hunters to hunt at times and places beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.

To apply for a special permit, hunters planning to hunt for deer or elk must purchase an application and hunting license for those species and submit the application with their preferred hunt choices.

Applications and licenses are available from license vendors statewide or on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/. Applications must be submitted on the website or by calling 1-877-945-3492 toll-free.

If purchasing and applying online, hunters must first establish an online account by creating a username and password. Information on how to create a username and password in the WILD system can be found at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/content/pdfs/WILD-Account-Instructions.pdf. Hunters can also click the “Customer Support” link on the WILD homepage for additional assistance.

Hunters who already have a username and password can login to purchase and submit their applications.

Most special hunt permit applications cost $7.10 for residents, $110.50 for non-residents, and $3.80 for youth under 16 years of age.

The exception is the cost for residents purchasing applications for mountain goats, any bighorn sheep ram, any moose, and “quality” categories for deer and elk. Those applications cost $13.70.

Instructions and details on applying for special permit hunts are described on pages 12-13 of Washington’s 2018 Big Game Hunting Seasons & Regulations pamphlet, available at WDFW offices, license vendors, and online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/.

Additional information is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/permits/faq.html.

Anis Aoude, WDFW game division manager, reminds hunters to update their phone number, email, and mailing address when purchasing their special hunting permit applications and licenses. Updates can be made by logging into the WILD system. Each year, hundreds of special hunting permits are returned due to invalid addresses.

Results of the special permit drawing will be available online by the end of June at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/. Winners will be notified by mail or email by mid-July.

Volunteers Needed On Southern Oregon Wildlife Habitat Project Next Month

Editor’s note: This event has been rescheduled to April 28 due to predicted heavy rains and winds on April 7.

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Anyone who appreciates wildlife is invited to help restore the Potato Patch Meadow Complex in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest on Saturday, April 7.

VOLUNTEERS RESTORED NEARLY FOUR ACRES OF MEADOW HABITAT AT A VOLUNTEER WORK PARTY IN THE MEADOWS LAST MONTH. (ODFW)

Volunteers will remove smaller conifer trees and saplings that are encroaching on grassland habitat and reducing quality habitat for Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer and upland game birds. Creating slash piles will also encourage grouse nesting habitat and improve meadow habitat.

“We held a volunteer day in February, and even though it was pouring rain, we had an incredibly enthusiastic group of 20 people show up and restore just under four acres,” said Bree Furfey, ODFW wildlife biologist. “Volunteers from the Curry Citizens for Public Land Access, Future Farmers of America, and Oregon Hunters Association pre-sampled the meadow, cleared a road, and created slash piles for grouse habitat.”

People with experience and training using chainsaws or people who can bring hand tools such as loppers and weed whackers are encouraged to attend.

Meet at the Silver Creek Bridge at 9 a.m. on the north side of the Rogue River (the south end of Lobster Creek Bridge) in the national forest. Check a map of the meeting location, which is a 20 minute drive from Gold Beach.

Lunch is provided. Contact Bree Furfey with any questions at brehan.c.furfey@state.or.us or 541-247-7605 ext. 227.

The Great ‘Elk Drive’ Of Snohomish County

UPDATED 2 P.M., MARCH 12, 2018

It was 106 years ago yesterday that a panicked herd of more than four dozen elk were turned loose in the Skykomish Valley around Startup.

They’d been “obtained” by the Snohomish County Game Commission and were meant to stock the Sultan Basin.

A NEWSPAPER ARTICLE REPORTS ON UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF THE RELEASE OF 49 ELK IN THE SKYKOMISH VALLEY 106 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK.

Five subsequently died in the corral they were being held in before being hauled in covered wagons to another enclosure in the basin, and according to a March 13, 1912, article in the Olympia Daily Recorder, another 11 had succumbed on the way from Gardiner, Montana.

Apparently, the release was big doin’s, attended by commissioners and folks who came upvalley from Everett.

“The frightened animals tore madly around the corral after being unloaded,” the paper reported.

My mom stumbled on the article while doing genealogy research on relatives who had lumber operations in the valley in the early 1900s (we also lived in nearby Sultan when I was a kid growing up).

Another she found from early 1916 provided an update on the herd.

“They were given rigid protection, they multiplied rapidly, and it wasn’t long before they had become so friendly that they were a positive nuisance,” reported the Seattle Daily Times.

Driven out of the Sultan Basin by snow, the elk in particular liked the pear orchard of a Startup rancher by the name of Bob Miller.

He was not pleased and threatened to take matters into his own hands if something wasn’t done.

So on Feb. 5, Snohomish County saw its “first ‘elk drive'” — and possibly its last — as Game Warden Miller, along with a pair of deputies and a pack of dogs did their best to herd the elk away.

Alas, it didn’t work.

“As soon as it was dark the elk came sneaking back. The Snohomish County Game Commission is considering what step to take next,” the Times reported.

It’s a result that wouldn’t be unknown to fish and wildlife officers and WDFW conflict specialists today who use a range of tricks and tactics to try and keep elk out of crops. Feeding them on Central Washington winter range is another way to limit ag damage.

A draft WDFW Nooksack elk herd plan from 2000 reports that, ultimately, the Startup release “failed” and lists “poaching” as a cause.

A similar 1912 effort in the Skagit Valley sputtered, but one of 80 animals in King County was successful.

Still, every now and then you hear of an elk or two roaming Snohomish County, mainly along the Skykomish River not far from Gold Bar.

And while hunting blacktail elsewhere in the county last fall, a friend got a pretty strong whiff of what he feels was wapiti.

Yakima-area Elk, Deer Trafficker Sentenced

41-year-old Wapato, Washington, man has been sentenced to spend 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to five counts of felony wildlife trafficking.

According to state fish and wildlife officers, Oscar Finley sold them two elk and five deer out of the back of his pickup for a total of $790 over an 11-day period in November 2013.

A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife image shows a pair of bull elk sold by Oscar Finley to an undercover officer at the Yakima Kmart in November 2013. (WDFW)

The three sales occurred in the parking lot of the Yakima Kmart. (Of note, no members of the public reported any suspicious behavior, according to game wardens.)

Finley was charged with the crimes in Yakima County Superior Court in late 2016, which also was not long after he was cited by the Oregon State Police for his part in the alleged killing of a trophy mule deer buck near Fossil in October of that year.

When in late February of this year Washington wardens posted news of Finley’s trafficking plea deal on Facebook, there was rage about his sentence – a year in jail but with 334 days of that suspended.

Still, officers were glad that overworked county prosecutors had taken the politically fraught case up and gotten a result.

They also say that, unfortunately, unlawful trafficking of venison, jerky and other game meat is common.

2018-20 Hunting Regs, Columbia River Policy, Wolves On WA FWC Agenda

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will invite public comments on 2018-2020 hunting season proposals, Columbia River fisheries policy, and other issues during a public meeting March 15-17 in Wenatchee.

WITH MOOSE IN NORTHEAST WASHINGTON HAVING EITHER PEAKED AND STABILIZED OR BEGINNING TO DECLINE SOMEWHAT, WDFW IS RECALIBRATING HARVEST LEVELS FOR THE UPCOMING SEASONS. (HOWARD FERGUSON, WDFW)

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will convene in the Wenatchee and Chelan rooms of the Red Lion Hotel, 1225 N. Wenatchee Ave., in Wenatchee.

The meeting begins at 1 p.m. Thursday, March 15, with Commission workshops that include no public input but are open to the public. Meetings scheduled Friday, March 16, and Saturday, March 16, begin at 8 a.m., with a review of hunting season proposals on Friday and Columbia River fisheries policy review on Saturday.

An agenda for the meeting is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/.

The hunting season setting public process began last summer with surveys and meetings to develop proposals. They include:

  • Changes to Yakima and Colockum elk hunting permit allocations.
  • Adding unmanned aircraft (drones) to the list of prohibited hunting equipment.
  • Requiring black bear hunters to complete a bear-species identification test in areas with threatened grizzly bears.
  • Prohibiting night hunting of bobcats in areas with endangered lynx.

The commission will hear final public input at the March meeting, with decisions scheduled for the April meeting.

Last month the commission directed WDFW staff to review the Columbia River policy, adopted in 2013 in collaboration with Oregon to guide management of commercial and recreational salmon fisheries in the lower Columbia River. The policy is designed to promote conservation of salmon and steelhead, prioritize recreational salmon fishing, and shift gillnet fisheries away from the river’s main channel.

SPORTFISHING BOATS TROLL FOR FALL CHINOOK ON THE WASHINGTON SIDE OF THE COLUMBIA ABOVE THE ASTORIA-MEGLER BRIDGE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The current Washington policy also calls for increasing hatchery releases in the lower Columbia, expanding the use of alternative fishing gear by commercial fishers, and implementing strategies to reduce the number of gillnet permits. The commission will be briefed, take public comment, and possibly make decisions at the March meeting.

The Commission will also hear public comment on proposed amendments to hydraulic project approval (HPA) rules on Saturday.

The Commission is set to make decisions on a proposal to require use of LED fishing lights in the coastal commercial ocean pink shrimp trawl fishery and a permanent rule to clarify the limits of keeping salmon for personal use during and open commercial fishery.

The commission will also be briefed by WDFW staff on forest management in wildlife areas, 2018 federal Farm Bill reauthorization, and the department’s annual wolf report.

WDFW WILL UPDATE ITS 2016 YEAR-END WOLF PACK MAP THIS MONTH WITH 2017’S KNOWN PACKS. (WDFW)

2017 Idaho Elk, Whitetail Harvest Up, Mule Deer Down, Hunt Managers Report

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

Hunters took more elk and white-tailed deer in 2017 than in 2016, but mule deer harvest was down. With a much milder winter so far, Fish and Game biologists expect the drop in mule deer harvest to be short lived as herds recover from last year’s difficult winter across Central and Southern Idaho.

The 2017 elk harvest was about 17.5 percent above the 10-year average, and despite the dip in the mule deer harvest, 2017’s overall deer harvest was still slightly above the 10-year average.

(IDFG)

Elk harvest

Elk hunters are enjoying some of the best hunting in recent history. Harvest was up by 1,242 elk in 2017 over 2016, which was largely an increase in cow harvest. The bull harvest dropped 341 animals between 2016 and 2017.

Fish and Game increased cow hunting opportunities to reduce herds that are causing damage to private lands in parts of the state.

Idaho’s elk harvest has exceeded 20,000 elk for four straight years, which hasn’t happened since the mid 1990s.

Idaho’s elk herds have grown in recent years thanks in part to mild winters, but elk don’t typically suffer the same fate as mule deer when winter turns colder and snowier.

“Elk are much hardier animals and less susceptible to environmental conditions,” Fish and Game Deer and Elk Coordinator Daryl Meints said. “It has to be a tough winter to kill elk.”

(IDFG)

Deer harvest

The 2017 deer harvest dropped by 11,426 animals compared with 2016, which included a slight increase in white-tailed deer harvested, but 11,574 fewer mule deer harvested.

In response to last year’s hard winter, Fish and Game’s wildlife managers reduced antlerless hunting opportunities for mule deer in 2017 to protect breeding-age does and help the population bounce back more quickly. That resulted in 2,517 fewer antlerless mule deer harvested.

Fish and Game’s mule deer monitoring last winter showed only 30 percent survival for fawns, which was the second-lowest since winter monitoring started 20 years ago. Those male fawns would have been two-points or spikes in the fall had they survived, which typically account for a large portion of the mule deer buck harvest. Harvest statistics showed hunters took 3,709 fewer two points or spikes in 2017 than in 2016.

Mule deer tend to run on a “boom and bust” cycle, and “every few years, you’re going to have a winter when this happens,” Meints said.

However, it tends to be fairly short-lived unless there are consecutive winters with prolonged deep snow and/or frigid temperatures. While mule deer hunting was down, whitetail hunting remains solid and stable, and hunters took more whitetails than mule deer last fall, which is rare for Idaho.

TONEY GRIFFITH BAGGED HER FIRST WHITETAIL LAST NOVEMBER WHILE HUNTING IN NORTH IDAHO. MANAGERS THERE SAY THE 2017 HARVEST WAS NOT FAR BELOW 2015’S RECORD. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

The whitetail harvest in 2016 and 2017 hovering just below the all-time harvest record of 30,578 set in 2015.

Northern Idaho had an average winter last year, and whitetails in the Panhandle and Clearwater continue to thrive after a series of mild-to-average winters there.

“We don’t have as much telemetry-collar data like we do with mule deer, but there’s no reason to believe we haven’t had higher-than-normal survival of whitetail fawns and adults, and the harvest data supports that,” Meints said.

Looking ahead

While last winter’s above-average snowpack in Southern and Central Idaho took its toll on fawns, it also provided a lot of moisture that grew lots of food for big game animals. Many animals went into winter in great condition, and so far, weather has been mild compared to last year.

A mild, or average, winter typically grows herds because a larger proportion of the fawns and calves survive, which is a critical time for their passage into adulthood.

Even during the difficult winter last year, more than 90 percent of the radio-collared mule deer does, and more than 95 percent of the radio-collared cow elk survived.